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‘We need phytosanitary certificate to export agric produce ‘

By John Oba

The Chairman, Nigerian Yam Export Programme, Professor Simon Irtwange has called for reduction in the number of regulatory agencies claiming relevance on exportation of agric produce.
He said the only requirement for export is the phytosanitary certificate issued by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS).
Irtwange stated this at the end of the Yam Exporters’ stakeholders meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh.

He said when Nigerian yams arrived the United Kingdom and the United States of America, it was only the Phytosanitary certificate that was requested for.
Explaining the circumstances surrounding the yam saga, he said: “Our yams were not rejected, yams can only be rejected at the port of entry, not in the off-takers warehouse. So we were all surprised at the claims that yams were rejected by the United States of America.
“However, we need to reduce the number of regulatory agencies that are trying to say they are relevant when actually they are not. When we got to the US and the UK, the authorities only asked us for the phytosanitary, certificates and nothing else.”
However, Ogbeh has emphasised that Nigerian will continue to export yams, adding that no criticisms will stop it.
Ogbeh explained that the food market in the United Kingdom is £30 billion, while Nigeria is just exploiting paltry £15 million of this as such Nigeria must embrace export of agricultural produce following the dwindling oil prices.
According to him “the Federal government position is that we are exporting yams and we will continue to export yam because we are the biggest producers in the world and we should be the biggest exporter.
“While people are talking now, the rest of the world has given us notice about 10 years from now we won’t be selling much oil, and if you people want to wait till then to look for what to export, the crisis they will be worst than what we have now, and when we want to do it, we look like the enemies of this country we feel sorry for those who are so ignorant, they don’t understand, but we will continue until we take over the world market.
He however reiterated that there was no rejection of Nigerian yams in the UK, instead, there was a delay in shipment, and since there were not enough cold room facilities, some of the yams got spoiled.
He said the government is in a discussion with a cold room manufacturer as part of ways to find solution to the problems.
“We are talking, there is a manufacturer now who will be installing conditioner rooms both at the ports and the farms and the mini centres where these things are produced to keep them fresh and to have them packaged properly according to demand standards in Europe and once that is done, the Europeans have no quarrel. The Americans, the Canadians are looking for yams at least the large population of Nigerians abroad are looking for this.

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